Entertainment Movies Oscar contender The Shape Of Water accused of ripping off forgotten Sixties play

Oscar contender The Shape Of Water accused of ripping off forgotten Sixties play

Sally Hawkins finds herself romantically drawn to an aquatic humanoid in The Shape of Water. Fox Searchlight
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Oscar-nominated The Shape Of Water‘s co-producer has defended the film against a copyright suit on the eve of the Academy Awards

The son of Pulitzer-winning playwright Paul Zindel has claimed the film nominated for 13 Academy Awards is “in many ways identical” to 1969’s Let Me Hear You Whisper.

But J Miles Dale on Friday said the lawsuit is “baseless” and that its timing was “opportunistic” to coincide with Oscar voting.

“It’s really baseless, if you look even a little bit into it, look at the two, the similarities are not that great,” he told the Press Association in Los Angeles.

“We’re pretty confident that it’s just going to go away and it’s pretty baseless. We’re not worried about it.

“It doesn’t worry us as much as it’s disappointing that the timing would be so opportunistic with Oscar voting beginning the next day.”

The playwright’s son David Zindel disputed the timing of the lawsuit was to coincide with Oscars voting, saying he approached Fox Searchlight after first watching the film in mid-January but was met with “inertia”.

“After weeks of Fox ignoring the overwhelming similarities, and after it was made clear Fox had no interest in finding some kind of solution, we had no choice but to enforce my dad’s copyright and protect his legacy,” he said.

Lawyers for Zindel filed the complaint in California against director Guillermo Del Toro and Fox Searchlight last month, claiming they had “brazenly” copied the story.

Lawyer Marc Toberoff said there are at least 61 similarities, including that they are both 1960s Cold War stories regarding an unmarried janitor and her relationship with an aquatic creature in a secret laboratory.

In the Zindel play, the creature is a captive dolphin subjected to experiments intended to teach it to talk. The film features a humanoid creature netted in a South American river.

Fox Searchlight said it would “vigorously” defend the “ground-breaking and original film”.

The Shape Of Water is up for best picture at the Academy Awards , while leading lady Sally Hawkins a nominee for best actress.